Dornenreich – Flammentriebe (Prophecy Productions)

Thursday, 21st March 2013
Rating: 8/10

Any band that can successfully volley between all-acoustic and avant-garde metal without a skipping a beat is one to take note of. Such is the case for Austria’s Dornenreich, who aren’t the first name thought of in this realm (for now, it’s Agalloch and Alcest), yet they’ve managed to whip an alluring, sort of wild and weary concoction on their sixth album, Flammentriebe. It doesn’t immediately tug at one’s emotional heartstrings, but its slow-developing nature reaps ultimate rewards at the tail-end of the album when two of the band’s most definitive compositions strike avant-garde gold.

2008’s In Luft geritzt was the aforementioned all-acoustic affair, with mainman Jochen Stock pairing up with violin player Thomas Riesner for a round of haunting numbers that reached a crescendo with “Aufbruch” and “Dem Wind Geboren.” A similar pattern follows suit on Flammentriebe, with the bulk of the album being fairly middle-of-the-road avant-garde BM, until the final pairing of “In allem Weben” and “Erst deine Träne löscht den Brand.”

“In allem Weben” is a pensive, bass-driven number with several flirtations with My Dying Bride-like violins, albeit on a much more grand scale. When a tidal wave of black metal riffing along with Stock’s harshly-shouted vocals hit, it’s truly a striking moment. Same bodes for the instrumental “Erst deine Träne löscht den Brand,” which is able to corral the band’s unique sense of somber melody, all into one massive closing number that is just as moving as any Agalloch or Alcest song would be.

Rare when an album has its two best songs placed at the end (industry practice is to place your best song in the first and second slots), yet Dornenreich has never operated under normal conventions. For one of the longest-standing bands on the blossoming Prophecy Productions label, they’ve come to embody exactly what the label is all about – challenging, forward-thinking avant-garde metal, designed to strike a nerve and leave one wanting more. For two songs, Flammentriebe does exactly that.

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